Renee Paquette, f.k.a. Renee Young, left WWE following SummerSlam in August. During her time with the company, she became the first full-time female commentator while also hosting WWE Backstage on FS1. While speaking with the Sunday Night’s Main Event podcast, Renee noted that while she received positive feedback as a member of the Raw commentary team, she discussed why she wasn’t equipped for that role.
“It was interesting because when I first started, everyone was high-fiving and saying I knocked it out of the park. Vince is tweeting about it and it felt like it was a big success. But then my confidence went down, and I think that nobody knew how to produce me in that role. I don’t think anyone knew how to help me and it wasn’t for a lack of me wanting help. I was talking to a bunch of people trying to get better, and I want to be good at what I do but I wasn’t skilled in that area,” said Renee.
She mentioned that she didn’t go through commentary training at NXT and didn’t have practice calling matches in a booth like most other WWE commentators.
“It was all very weird. I was very insincere about it, which I don’t think helped as you can’t really do your job that well if you’re stressed out about what you’re doing. I was really stressed for about a year-and-a-half. I was stressed out every three hours,” stated Renee. “There were a few times where I felt really good about a show when we could have fun, and mess around, and have that dynamic of me, Cole, and Graves working together. We’re all good friends in real life, and you should be able to go out there and call some wrestling with them and have it be a cool experience. But there’s so many moving parts and you’re trying to find your voice. Am I an analyst, am I a journalist, am I just a fan? I felt that kept switching and I couldn’t get a grasp on it. It’s hard; I commend anybody out there doing that job because it’s tough.”
A common refrain from all commentators is that Vince McMahon is constantly in your ear through the headset. Renee talked about if that was the case for her, as well and what her working relationship with McMahon was like.
“We’re talked to throughout the show all the time, whether it’s from a production standpoint or if Vince has ideas. It’s hard to take that direction sometimes, and I never really felt like I had that much of a relationship with Vince,” revealed Renee. “I don’t think he understood me or understood who I was as a personality for him. I think that’s where a lot of the confusion came from was just trying to get on the same page. And being the first woman to do it, everyone was like, ‘I don’t know what to say to her. I don’t know how to make this better.’ It was odd.
“He gets in our ears a lot and gives us lines to say, or different directions that he wants us to go with someone’s character, or words that we say and words that we don’t say. It’s hard to adjust to and get into a rhythm of calling a match sometimes when the shows are going like that? It’s nerve-racking when you have The Undertaker coming out, and you’re like, ‘What the f*** am I supposed to say right now?’ Then trying to call my husband’s matches and he’s a heel ? it’s between a rock and a hard place. It was really tough.”
Renee also recalled the first time she met Vince McMahon backstage at an event.
“The first time I met him ? and he would not even remember this. It was very meeting-in-the-hallway, and I shook his hand and whatever. We were in Hershey, Pennsylvania, I was brought in to TV and I got to the building early, as one does when you’re new. I was used to our world of acting auditioning where you show up fresh faced then change and get ready for the show. Then I realized that’s not really the deal, and you should show up looking nice with a full face of makeup on,” said Renee.
“Little me is walking around backstage with a clean face, squeaky clean, and he comes walking down the hallway, and I’m like, ‘Hi!’ And I don’t remember who it was with him, but they said Vince should not see you without makeup on. You should be fully done. He did not react in any poor way or anything, but I remember being like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that. I thought I came here and I would go into makeup, so why would I already have makeup on?’ It was very weird. He would not remember that, but I just remember that happening and I had not a clue that that was how it’s supposed to work.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Sunday Night’s Main Event with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.